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Journal article

No holds barred: policing and security in the public library

Police-community relations Public spaces Libraries United States of America

Library and Information Studies (LIS) has traditionally taken a conservative and uncritical approach to security and policing in libraries. The available literature usually adopts one of three frameworks: the liability framework emphasizing risk and its management, the security consultant framework featuring authors with private security or policing backgrounds, and the First Amendment framework seeking to balance the rights of the individual with the rights of the majority as seen in Kreimer v. Morristown. Despite some helpful recommendations from these contributions, they tend to encourage library staff to develop close relationships with local police and security guards without considering the negative effects this closeness can have on patrons who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour (BIPOC), people experiencing mental illness, and people from other marginalized communities. Research from outside of LIS has documented the negative psychological effects of police presence on BIPOC and has also established connections between the increased presence of police in libraries and the broader increase of police and security guards in public spaces. If libraries are to be safe places for patrons of all backgrounds, authors in LIS, and library workers in general must incorporate insights from other disciplines into their practice and begin to meaningfully address the complicated roles of police and security guards in the public library.

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